McLaren Automotive has announced their impressive driver line-up for this weekend’s Gulf 12 Hours at Abu Dhabi from 13th to 15th December for the competitive debut of the McLaren 720S GT3. The car will be driven by McLaren Automotive Factory Driver Ben Barnicoat from Great Britain and joined by Alvaro Parente from Portugal and Shane van Gisbergen from New Zealand.
All three drivers have impeccable credentials, with Parente and van Gisbergen both holding Platinum status under the FIA driver-rating system, which is the highest available, whilst Barnicoat is ranked as Gold.
The 720S GT3 is being entered under McLaren Customer Racing in the thrilling Gulf 12 Hours. This endurance event is now in its eighth year and the grid will be packed with over 30 GT3 and GT4 cars fighting it out on the track for outright honours in this two-part race of six hours taking place on the pretty 5.554 km Yas Marina Circuit, which is of course home to the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix which took place at the end of last month, rounding off this year’s Formula One World Championship season.
The Gulf 12 Hour race is an important part of the 720S GT3 intensive testing and development programme, having completed testing at circuits across Europe and the Middle East. McLaren have been working exclusively with Pirelli in a various weather conditions and the car and team have been simulating both sprint and endurance race distance to put the 720S GT3 through its paces and gather significant data so as to fine tune the car’s performance and set up.
The 720S GT3 race debut this week follows its first public appearance at the recent Bahrain GT Festival. This week’s race however, in a real live race environment, and against one of the most competitive grids in the event’s history, will be a significant test and challenge for the car at the demanding Yas Marina circuit.
As Dan Walmsley, Director of Motorsport at McLaren Automotive says: “The Gulf 12 Hours is a stern test for the car but with the development mileage we have accumulated and with the fantastic driver line-up we’ll be able to gauge the potential of the new McLaren 720S GT3. We’re confident that we’ve put the new car through a comprehensive development programme, with lead driver Ben Barnicoat taking a critical role in the process. Teaming him up with Alvaro Parente and Shane van Gisbergen, two excellent racers who both have extensive GT racing experience with McLaren machinery, it should make for an interesting competition debut for the car.”
The 2018 Gulf 12 Hours takes place at Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi from Thursday 13th to Saturday 15th December, with the first part of the race starting at 09.00 local time (05.00 GMT) on Saturday 15th December, whilst the second part of the race will start at 17.45 local time (13.45 GMT) on the same day.
For more information on the McLaren 720S GT3 please visit www.mclaren.com
Simon Burrell is Editor of Our Man Behind The Wheel and Editor-in-Chief of Our Man On The Ground Travel and Lifestyle Magazine.
Photographs courtesy of McLaren Automotive Limited